The Brewers Association announced the recipients of its 2020 Industry Awards. Three members of the brewing community were recognized and awarded for their dedication and service. The Brewers Association has been recognizing individuals who inspire, defend, and innovate within the craft brewing industry since 1987.
Award recipients were nominated by their peers and determined by vote from committees made up of members of the Brewers Association board of directors or past winners of the innovation award.
“This year’s award recipients have elevated craft brewing to greater levels in business and brewing innovation, and have worked towards fair legislative and regulatory treatment for craft brewers,” said Paul Gatza, senior vice president of professional brewing division, Brewers Association.
2020 Industry Awards Recipients
Brewers Association Recognition Award – Oscar Wong, founder of Highland Brewing Co. (Asheville, N.C.)
This award is presented each year to an individual or company whose inspiration, enthusiasm, and support have contributed to the craft brewing movement. In 1994, Oscar Wong founded Asheville, North Carolina’s first craft brewery, Highland Brewing Co., kicking off a craft beer renaissance that took the city from sleepy mountain town to the craft beer capital of the Southeast. Wong is widely recognized as the “Father of Asheville Craft Beer.” In 2019, the brewery celebrated 25 years of quality craft beer and independent family ownership. This year, the brewery will celebrate Wong’s 80th birthday and his pioneering spirit, which continues to inspire the local brewing community to this day.
“This is over the top. I am so proud and humbled to be in the ranks of this distinguished group of honorees,” said Oscar Wong, founder of Highland Brewing Co. and recipient of the Brewers Association Recognition Award. “It means the world to me that our little brewery from a sleepy mountain town could be recognized for our role in the great American craft beer movement.”
Russell Schehrer Award for Innovation in Craft Brewing – Brendan McGivney, chief operations officer at Odell Brewing Co. (Fort Collins, Colo.)
This award is presented in honor of Wynkoop Brewing Company’s Russell Schehrer to an individual or company for their innovative contributions to the brewing industry. McGivney has worked at Odell Brewing since 1995 and is recognized for aiding the development of new hops, building farmer-brewer relationships, serving as part of the hop quality group, and discovering the innovative process of “fresh grind” hops. A hop pioneer in the craft industry, McGivney is responsible for developing brands such as Odell IPA, Drumroll American Pale Ale, Friek, 5 Barrel Pale Ale, and Rupture. In addition to helping other breweries with his wisdom, McGivney’s work has allowed smaller breweries better access to higher quality hops and new experimental varieties.
F.X. Matt Defense of the Industry Award – Adam DeBower, co-founder and director of operations at Austin Beerworks (Austin, Texas)
This award is named for the late F.X. Matt of F.X. Matt Brewing Co. and is presented to an individual or company for their contributions and efforts in championing the small brewing industry. In 2019, DeBower, along with other Texas brewers and the Texas Craft Brewers Guild, drove a successful effort to allow most manufacturing breweries to sell beer to-go at their taprooms. DeBower currently serves as the chair of the Texas Craft Brewers Guild Legislative Committee and in 2017 founded CraftPAC, a political action committee dedicated to advancing the rights of Texas craft brewers.
For more information on past winners and information on nominations for 2021 awards, please visit here.